Monday, February 15, 2010

Email Message from Phuoc

February 14, 2010

Dearest Family and Friends,

I am writing you from the Partners in Health (PIH) base camp in Port-Au-Prince (PAP), sitting under my mosquito net to avoid any further unwelcomed phlebotomy.

Over the last several weeks since I arrived in Haiti, I'm sure that there have been dozens of images on television that you've seen. The vast majority of those stories probably depicted the suffering, ongoing despair, and abject misery of post "event" PAP residents. I don't want to add to those reports by yet more demoralizing stories. Instead, I want to share with you experiences I've been blessed to have that show the truly inspirational resilience of the Haitian people.

One of those first experiences took place just a couple of days after I arrived, about 10 days after the earthquake. As I rode in the back of a pick-up truck with several orthopedic surgeons, on our way to the University Hospital, I saw several young children laughing while running along a rare swath of greenery in PAP, each with his hand held high and yanking against a taut string attached to multi-colored kites soaring overhead. Imagine this scene anywhere else and you'd be amused, maybe nostalgic, but not surprised. Imagine this scene superimposed on entire city blocks that were leveled, on burning piles of trash, on schools that are now but mountains of rubble, and you'd realize that it is a sign of resilience.

For over three weeks now, my main duties have been to help triage and coordinate referrals of PIH patients who need more advanced medical care. I've been able to see so many people bravely enduring the most painful surgeries, the loss of limbs, the constant flashbacks, the untreated PTSD. Let me tell you about 15 year old Anna, my hero. Anna survived the earthquake, but sadly, her parents did not, and she only has an older brother left. She was treated at our PIH affiliated hospital in St. Marc, about two hours to the North of PAP. Despite our best efforts, we could not save her left leg below the knee. She spent weeks enduring repeated surgeries because of wound infections, all of which she braved. Today, three weeks after her amputation, Anna will be among the first PIH patients to be fitted with a prosthesis at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti.

Today is the fifth Sunday since the catastrophe. I drove through town today with my friend, Saul. We stopped at his church, called the Brotherhood of Baptists, which is no longer usable for services but is still standing. As we drove, we witnessed dozens of festive processions led by pastors, filled with people dressed in white, reaching the skies in songs of praise. If faith is the root of resilience in times of tremendous adversity, then I am not worried about Haiti ever running out of resilience.

I want to thank you all who have been praying and supporting me during my short stay here. Many of you have given to our cause, and for that I'm deeply grateful on behalf of Partners in Health. Your support has not and will not be forgotten. It's truly been a privilege of a lifetime for me to be here, in solidarity with friends and colleagues, to bear witness to the strength of a people, neglected and oppressed for centuries, until now. Thank you for Standing With Haiti.

Much love,

Phuoc V. Le MD MPH

Friday, February 12, 2010

News from Phuoc

Erin writes that Phuoc has been at General Hospital...working pediatrics. Today he was going to Cange, taking a mother and her premie babies to the NICU there. He had reunited them yesterday on the Comfort where one of the babies had been taken weeks ago. It is nice to have a happy story.

A couple of days ago, he lost a new mom who was not eligible for care on the Comfort. From what I can piece together, Phuoc had worked hard to get her lifesaving care...but it was refused, despite his efforts, because her health issues were not necessarily earthquake related.

Paul Farmer, PhD, MD - the noted founder of Partners in Health - lost many good friends in the earthquake. I heard the number was 50. I imagine many of them were involved in medical care.

Phuoc will be back in the states around February 20...for a two week break...then back to Haiti. We are so proud of him and his fellow PIH members. They are the best of the best!

That's all for now.

Norah Lynne Brown

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not a good day in Port au Prince

Message from Phuoc: 2 hours of rain and my tent is literally floating in 4 inches of water. The rainy season starts in April.

Monday, February 8, 2010

PIH Fund-Raising Wrap-Up

Saturday afternoon, Feb. 7, Gallery One was the site of an informational fund-raising event for Partners in Health, hosted by our eldest granddaughter, Erin Jones-Le, whose husband has been in Haiti since January 20. Phuoc was able to talk with us all via cell and the gallery sound system.

Despite the weather, attendance was excellent...and Erin was thrilled with the generosity of the attendees. She is back in Boston where she attends law school and volunteers for PIH.

Phuoc is expected back in the US +-February 20. He'll spend two weeks attending to his duties at Harvard...and then is planning to head back to Haiti for another month.

That's all for now.

Norah Lynne

Monday, February 1, 2010

Phuoc Arranges Transfer of Critically-Ill Kids to USA

Dr. Phuoc Le, of Boston, Massachusetts, top right, and a medevac pilot, transfer five-year-old Betina Joseph, below left, and a fourteen-month-old with pneumonia to a private jet for their evacuation to Children's Hospital in Philadelphia by the Boston-based aid group Partners in Health from Port-au-Prince, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010. Doctors skirted a bureaucratic logjam to save the life of three critically ill child victims of Haiti's earthquake, flying them to U.S. hospitals on a private jet to avoid a military suspension of medical evacuation flights.(AP Photo/Andres)

EDITOR'S NOTE: On Sunday evening, Phuoc was seen on NBC Nightly News and many other venues. Below are links to this story. His wife, Erin Jones-Le, will have additional information about Partners in Health in Haiti when she hosts an informal informational gathering on Saturday, Feb. 6, 11-2, at Gallery One, Route 615, Mentor. Click on the links below for additional information and for a personal invitation to Saturday's event.